Construction of the Byram/Clinton Parkway, an 18-mile project Mississippi’s economic development officials conceived in 1985, is expected to finally get under way in December, Hinds County Supervisor Peggy Calhoun says.
Calhoun said Monday project engineers declared the first phase of slightly more than three miles ready to go, though the Army Corps of Engineers wants more time to work a wetlands mitigation agreement with Hinds County, the project’s sponsor.
The wetlands mitigation agreement would require Hinds County to create new wetlands to offset wetlands lost to the parkway’s construction.
The four-lane, divided roadway is to run between Byram at Interstate 55 South northwest to the Norrell Road interchange at Interstate 20 just west of Clinton.
Since the parkway does not actually link up with Clinton, Calhoun said she expects the roadway will get a new name soon.
The first phase of the parkway that Supervisor Calhoun expects to see started this year will extend from Davis Road to Parks Road, a distance of 3.24 miles. The much longer second phase, for which no timetable has been set, is to link up with the initial phase at Parks Road and extend north to Norrell Road. Hinds County has acquired all of the right of way needed for the southern leg and 85 percent for the northern portion, according to Calhoun, who has pushed for the parkway since joining the Board of Supervisors in 1992.
Calhoun calls the parkway a key economic development element. She envisions industrial, retail and residential developing along the parkway. Calhoun said she also expects the four-lane roadway to relieve traffic congestion.
Federal highway officials allocated $30 million for the entire project in 1992. The southern portion is estimated to cost $18 million, 20 percent of which Hinds County must provide. The northern stretch is estimated to cost around $25 million and will require a new allocation of federal highway finding, as well as a 20 percent match from the county.
“We’re at the mercy of Congress,” Calhoun said. “Of course, we will seek additional dollars through the grant process.”
The Mississippi Department of Transportation has been administering the initial $30 million allocation, and must approve all expenditures once construction begins, Calhoun said.
She said engineers have not identified the presence of the kind of Yazoo clay that forced a temporary shutdown of the widening of I-55 several months ago.